Foreign secretary S Jaishankar will be in Beijing on February 22 for the first India-China strategic dialogue, a new mechanism set in place last year for greater engagement between the two sides.
The visit comes within weeks of China again blocking efforts to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN. India’s NSG bid, which Beijing has opposed, is another sticking point.
Five things to know about the foreign secretary’s visit:
1) The India-China strategic dialogue is the latest effort to address the differences that hamper ties between the two Asian giants. China is India’s biggest neighbour. Frequent bilateral exchanges and high-level meetings are expected to offer a better understanding between the two sides on issues varying from border incursions to trade imbalance.
2) India is upset with China for again putting a technical hold on a proposal to get Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar on a UN list of designated terrorists. India blames Azhar for masterminding last year’s attacks on the Pathankot airbase and an Indian Army camp in Uri that left 19 soldiers dead.
Pakistan’s all-weather ally China says it needs more proof against Azhar, whose inclusion on the list would cripple his ability to organise militant strikes. China says it shares India’s concerns over terrorism but it has chosen to go with Pakistan when acting against militant groups is concerned.
3) Over the last year, the nuclear suppliers group has emerged as another point of discord between the two countries. China has blocked India’s efforts to join the 48-member club that controls global trade in nuclear technology. China is calling for a criteria-based approach for the inclusion of countries such as India which have not signed the non-proliferation treaty. Pakistan, too, has applied for an NSG membership. Like India, Pakistan is not part of the NPT regime and China is trying to yoke New Delhi’s entry with that of Islamabad.
4) China is India’s biggest trading partner outside the European Union. The bilateral trade is worth more than $70 billion, heavily tilted in favour of China. Chinese investment in India grew by 7.5 % in 2016 to $1.06 billion but political differences are holding back a big economic push. Trade and economy will top Jaishankar’s discussions with Chinese officials.
5) China is hosting BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit this year. Regional and international issues will come up during Jaishankar’s talks with Chinese side.